Ever since center Tyson Chandler joined the Dallas Mavericks in 2010 and changed the team’s defensive culture while dominating the paint, the Mavs have been searching for the next Tyson Chandler.
Fast forward 11 years, and they may have finally found that player in Moses Brown.
Acquired in a July 31 trade with the Boston Celtics, Brown comes equipped with that same angular frame and freakish athleticism as Chandler. And he apparently also has that laser-focused attention to making sure the interior area of the key is his private domain.
The question remains: Does Brown have the same tenacity and wherewithal to clean up whatever defensive mistakes are made on the perimeter the way Chandler did in helping the Mavs capture the 2011 NBA title? Coach Jason Kidd certainly thinks so.
In giving his seal of approval on the Brown-Chandler comparison, Kidd said: “It’s a great comparison. I think there are some similarities there and I think that you’re going to see similarities of Tyson one way or another.”
Kidd should know.
Back during the 2010-11 season, Kidd and Chandler were teammates and in leadership positions who helped the Mavs defeat LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the heavily favored Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals. Brown was only an 11-year old kid growing up in New York at the time.
And as fate would have it, Chandler has been working with Brown lately on some of the nuances of the game.
“He’s been helping Moses a little bit in the gym just to kind of help him get a feel for things,” said Al Whitley, who is the general manager of the Texas Legends – the G League team that feeds the Mavs. “So to have a guy like Tyson Chandler as a mentor – someone who is a championship player, who brings what Tyson brought to the court, his intensity, toughness, all those types of things – that’s now being shared with Moses.
“It’s incredible to watch them work out together. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Brown played one year of college basketball at UCLA, then declared for the 2019 NBA draft, but went undrafted. The Portland Trail Blazers signed Brown to a training camp contract in 2019, then assigned him to play for the Texas Legends on Oct. 27, 2019.
In 30 games for the Legends two seasons ago, Brown averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, and shot a robust 64.1 percent from the field in just 19.4 minutes per contest.
“Moses was great — we loved him,” Whitley said. “When Portland wanted to assign him – because they didn’t have a G League team – they were able to assign him to us, and we welcomed him with open arms.
“The greatest thing about Moses is he’s so young, but you can’t teach his size and athleticism.”
The 7-2, 245-pound Brown is only 21 years old, and is expected to be a fixture in the Mavs’ rotation this upcoming season. Most of all, the Mavs believe he’s only scratched the surface of what he’ll eventually become.
“He’s super athletic for his size, and he runs like a deer,” Whitley said. “He’s really just getting the teaching down and just learning the game. He’s so young and at the beginning of his professional career.
“He really hasn’t been taught a lot of this stuff, he only went to college for one year and he’s only 21 years old. Being in an NBA environment and one that supports and believes in him I think is going to help him tremendously, and we’ve already seen improvement in the few weeks he’s been in our facility.”
Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony – the son of former NBA player Greg Anthony – and Brown formed one of the top his school duos in the country while playing at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, N.Y. Brown was eventually named to the prestigious McDonald’s All-American team, then shunned college offers from Kentucky and Maryland to play for UCLA.
As Brown’s game flourished, he started studying other players’ games more judiciously.
“Growing up I used to watch a lot of versatile bigs like Dirk Nowitzki and guys that I wouldn’t even consider bigs, but would be big players like Kevin Durant and Kristaps Porzingis,” Brown said. “Guys like that who are really mobile and versatile. . .and what I kind of want to translate my game into while still being the same kind of player I am today.”
After his short tenure with the Blazers, Brown signed a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 9, 2020, and was ultimately selected to the All-NBA G League First Team after averaging 18.5 points, 13.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for the Oklahoma City Blue. The latter accomplishment prompted a promotion to the Thunder, where Brown started showing off his skill set on the NBA level.
While Brown averaged 8.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just 21.4 minutes in 43 games for the Thunder last season, he really popped up on every general manager’s radar screen when he scored 21 points and grabbed 23 rebounds during a game against the Celtics. But that wasn’t all.
Brown collected a 20-point, 16-rebound, five-block game against Chicago and numerous other eye-popping stat lines.
“He’s a load to handle, as we saw in the time we had him when he was with the Legends,” Whitley said. “When he walks on the court with that type of size, athleticism and strength, he’s a great rim protector, he’s a great rim runner and he affects the game in a lot of different ways.
“He’s developing some go-to moves, but he’s really good playing above the rim, finishing around the rim. He’s been working really hard on his free throws, which he gets fouled a lot, obviously, with his size and how he plays within the paint.”
Brown said he has a lot more 20-point, 20-rebound games remaining in his arsenal. He also expressed great joy in the time he spent sharpening his game when he played for the Legends.
“I was out here (in Dallas) for a little while playing for them and it was a great experience,” Brown said. “It definitely did help me get integrated into the city of Dallas and get a feel for what I was coming into.
“So, a huge shoutout to the Texas Legends for helping me start my development.”
Whitley describes Brown as “an incredible young man with huge upsides” that will leave an indelible impression on the Mavs’ franchise much like Chandler did.
“One of the things about Moses is he’s extremely coachable, he’s a great teammate and he’s a hard worker,” Whitley said. “Any time that he has a work ethic, the sky’s the limit when you have a guy with his type of skills, size and athleticism. He’s willing to put the work in and he’s willing to listen, so with those two things combined, I really see his potential being exponential.
“He’s really early in his career, but he can impact a game almost immediately being as raw as he is. Tyson could affect the game in so many different ways. Moses is the same way.”